Celia Franca Foundation

Celia Franca Foundation

Celia Franca, C.C., O.Ont.,

1921 - 2007 Many costumes, many stages and many honours and awards brought Celia Franca to her status as a "national treasure" in Canada.


Miss Franca received her early education in music and dance at the Guildhall School of Music in London, England and later studied under Judith Espinosa, Stanislas Idzikowski, Marie Rambert and Antony Tudor. She worked as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and guest artist for some of the leading ballet companies in London.


Her Canadian connection began with the invitation to come to Toronto to establish a ballet company. She accepted, and in 1951 founded the National Ballet of Canada. In 1959 she co-founded the National Ballet School of Canada.


After retiring from the National Ballet in 1974 she made Ottawa her home with her husband James Morton, founding principal clarinet of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.


Celia Franca could not have given Merrilee Hodgins and Joyce Shietze, founders of The School of Dance, any greater gift than accepting their invitation to be their co-artistic director. Thus began her twenty-seven year contribution to the pursuit of excellence in dance education here in Ottawa.


Miss Franca was always active in all aspects of The School of Dance including teaching classes regularly, delighting most particularly in the very young students. "Our Miss Franca," as she was known to the students of The School of Dance, coached the young dancers, acting as an artistic mentor to many memorable performances. Not one to shy away from hard work, Miss Franca also faithfully supported all the fundraising projects of The School, from the letter writing campaigns to dancing at the Hoedowns!


In 1985 the Celia Franca Scholarship was established by The School of Dance in her honour. Merrilee Hodgins and Joyce Shietze were instrumental in the creation of the Celia Franca Foundation, dedicated to excellence in dance training in Canada.

Miss Franca was the honoree at numerous events produced by The School of Dance: Celia Franca Scholarship Evenings held at the Museum of Nature, the National Gallery of Canada and the National Arts Centre and, in 2001, Happy Birthday Celia, love Canada, celebrating Miss Franca's 80th birthday. On that momentous occasion, 3,500 long-stemmed red roses were given to audience members to mark the birthday.


The tribute, Thank you Miss Franca, a gala evening of film, music, dance and memories thanking Celia Franca for her contribution to the arts in Canada for over fifty years, was produced by The School of Dance and took place on June 26, 2006 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.


The Celia Franca Foundation is a registered Canadian charity (registration # 89102278 2RR0001).



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